Comparative Analysis of State Trauma Triage Criteria vs. Paramedic Discretion

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Objective: The Florida Adult Trauma Triage Criteria (FATTC) define specific parameters concerning injury mechanism and physiologic data that prompt paramedics to initiate a trauma alert and necessitate transport to a trauma center. In the state of Florida, paramedics are also given discretion to bring patients to the trauma center who do not meet those criteria. Our aim was to compare the injury characteristics and outcomes of adult patients who were evaluated in our trauma center after activation due to FATTC criteria vs. paramedic discretion (PD) and to identify predictors of PD. Methods: This retrospective study included all patients 18 years and older evaluated in our trauma center from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2014. Descriptive statistics were computed for all variables. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed to compare demographic, injury severity, and outcome differences between groups. Results: A total of 13,963 patients met FATTC during the study period, and 1,811 were brought in by PD. PD patients had lower injury severity and crude mortality. Regression modeling of demographic and injury variables found that only the combination of older age and higher heart rate predicted PD when both were lower than FATTC alone. Conclusions: While PD patients were less seriously injured and had lower mortality, they experienced similar lengths of stay and resource utilization after presentation. Paramedics may be able to identify patients at risk for poor outcomes who would otherwise not be captured by FATTC.